Social media has allowed many people to stay connected with friends, keep informed about the latest news and events, and even have a successful career. However, social media is very much a double-edged sword, and the wrong comment at the wrong time can spell disaster for the author. It may seem difficult to imagine a business or individual embarrassing themselves in the space of a 140-character message on Twitter. Yet social media mistakes have been responsible for the downfall of celebrities, politicians, and entire institutions. No one can deny that social media has been a boon for communication, politics and economics. But some people seem determined to prove that one cannot have Twitter without the word “twit.” Twitter’s logo can swiftly become the bluebird of unhappiness if Twitter’s logo can swiftly become the bluebird of unhappiness if users fail to take proper care when messaging others. Here are some of the more prominent examples of recent social media mistakes
1. Stuart MacLennan
A candidate for the Labour Party in Scotland, MacLennan was forced to withdraw from the race in 2010 after several inflammatory tweets. These included calling elderly constituents “bloody coffin dodgers” and unleashing a torrent of curse words concerning colleagues and detractors alike.
2. Anthony Weiner
Twitter – @RepWeiner
In 2011, former U.S. Representative Weiner was embroiled in a Twitter scandal known as the infamous “Weinergate.” Weiner sent explicit pictures of himself to a 21-year-old female college student via Twitter. It later came to light that Weiner had engaged in lewd online behavior with at least six women.
3. Meg Whitman
Twitter – @sarahpompei
Whitman’s bid for the Governorship of California in 2010 undermined her candidacy due to a typo. Due to an incorrect link on a Twitter account, what was meant to take supporters to an endorsement instead directed them to a video of a Japanese, bass-playing cross-dresser known as H.J. Freaks.
4. Kenneth Cole
Twitter – @kennethcole
Owner of the self-named clothing line, Cole received much negative press during the 2011 Egyptian protests. The tweet that got him in trouble
5. Scott Bartosiewicz
Twitter – @ChryslerAutos
A social media manager for New Media Strategies, Bartosiewicz provides an excellent example. In 2011, he sent out the following tweet while sitting in Detroit traffic: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity, and yet no one here knows how to f$#@& drive.”
Although naivety might explain this tweet, McDonald’s created this hashtag, along with #MeetTheFarmers, to promote its food quality and that of its suppliers. Unfortunately, people used the opportunity to share the kind of stories McDonald’s would like to keep out of public view, like food poisoning.
7. Courtney Love
Instagram – @courtneylove
Love is unique because, thus far, she is the only person in the world to lose a lawsuit filed against her for making disparaging tweets. In 2009, Love posted a rant to Twitter concerning Dawn Simorangkir, a fashion designer. Simorangkir sued Love for defamation, libel and business losses and won.
8. Oprah Winfrey
Twitter – @Oprah
Back in February of 2012, Winfrey attempted to encourage viewers to tune into her cable network by tweeting during the Grammy Awards and pleading with people to watch her OWN network. Her messages caused a public backlash, prompting the Nielsen Company to chastise her and begin an investigation into her actions.
9. Qantas Airlines
Twitter – @Quantas
In late October 2011, Australian airline Qantas and its unions broke off negotiations, which led to a grounding of the airline’s entire fleet. Bizarrely, Qantas then chose to launch the “Qantas Luxury” competition, which invited Twitter users to describe their “dream luxury in-flight experience.”
Twitter – @CVS_Cares
In January 2011, CVS decided to launch the @CVS_Cares Twitter account to provide customer service via social media. Unfortunately, the tweets were protected, and not publicly available, which meant that only those tweeters approved by CVS could follow and reply to their tweets.
Twitter – @IHOP
While IHOP has made many people happy by providing late night access to all kinds of breakfast treats, the company tweeted a very unfortunate message back in 2015. When they tweeted a picture of a stack of pancakes, IHOP went with the regrettable caption of, “flat but has a great personality!”
12. Bud Light
Twitter – @budlight
When a company fails to take public sentiment into account, particularly about sexual assault, the results can be lamentable. Bud light decided to tweet an image of their bottle with the following message: “The perfect beer for removing the word ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.”
Twitter – @Entenmann’s
While many people enjoy the baked goods that the company produces, the company used the hashtag #NotGuilty to encourage their fans to share the love in 2011. This hashtag would prove to be a calamitous lapse of judgment, as Casey Anthony supporters were also using the hashtag.
14. Total Beauty
Twitter – @TotalBeauty
Sadly, if a company fails to do even basic research before sending a tweet, the internet will be happy to call them out. Back in 2016, Total Beauty tweeted a picture of Whoopi Goldberg saying, “We had no idea @Oprah was #tatted, and we love it. #Oscars.”
Twitter – @SeaWorld, @AshleeCheese_, @markhawthorne, @jennyfeelsme, @Jnormal
Following the release of the Blackfish documentary, SeaWorld needed to do some damage control to regain positive public sentiment. They created the hashtag #AskSeaWorld so that fans could ask the company questions. As a result, they were deluged by negative responses from animal activists who were displeased.
Twitter – @Wendys
In the middle of a playful twitter argument over whether their burgers are frozen, a twitter user asked Wendy’s if they had any memes. In response, Wendy’s posted an image of Pepe, the frog that resembled their mascot. Unfortunately this did not reflect well on Wendy’s image given that Pepe is also associated with hate groups.
17. New England Patriots
Twitter – @Patriots
In 2014, when their account gained one million users, they set up an automatic response to thank fans for their support. Sadly, the account proceeded to thank a user whose handle was racist and proceeded to retweet it as well, prompting an apology from the team.
18. The Gap
Twitter – @Gap
During Hurricane Sandy, The Gap decided to send a tweet with the following message: “All impacted by #Sandy, stay safe! We’ll be doing lots of Gap.com shopping today, how about you?” While many were forced to remain indoors for safety, the communication was considered remarkably tone-deaf by those affected.
19. Seattle Seahawks
Twitter – @Seahawks
In 2015, the Seattle Seahawks decided to tweet a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote over a picture of Russell Wilson in tears. Many Twitter users took issue with the Seahawks for equating the struggle for civil rights and equality with a team making it into the Super Bowl.
20. American Apparel
A member of American Apparel’s Twitter team posted an image of an explosion and smoke trail to celebrate July 4, 2014. Unfortunately, followers readily recognized the image as a photo of the Challenger disaster. Although American Apparel quickly deleted the tweet, the brand faced considerable outrage.Next